The future of mFT and cameras in general?

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sderdiarian
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The future of mFT and cameras in general?
7 months ago

This is long, be forewarned :

With everyday P&S cameras already in the dust bin, and highly resourced camera phone companies vying to grab sales from each other with rapidly improving sensors/processors, lenses, video, wifi connectivity and high res 5"+ screens (the LG3 will reportedly take this to 5.5"), where will this leave sales of high-end P&S cameras and IL cameras in general?

The under 30's have been weaned on camera phones. The 3" screens that are the norm on cameras have to seem anachronistic and borderline unusable to them. They view their images almost entirely on 5" camera phone screens and 7" iPads. Printing is a rarity, why bother in a digital world where convenience is the order of the day?

Polls taken here have shown DPR forum users to be predominantly 40+ in age. Where does all this leave the future of the cameras we love? Are they heading the way of the buggy whip? Or will there be a resurgence of interest in them among a growing international middle class?

Marty, I hope you don't mind my borrowing and editing your piece down. I found it compelling food for thought on the above:

Marty4650 wrote:

These are very hard times for the entire industry. The pie is shrinking, and it is shrinking fast. The paradigms are shifting.

Just three years ago in 2010 CIPA reported over 121 million cameras shipped. For 2013 the total was only 61 million... almost half as many. This is a huge decline in market during a relatively short period. For the first quarter of 2014, CIPA is reporting only 6.4 million cameras shipped. This means 2014 could end up with the total being under 30 million.

Stop and think about that.

  • 2010 - 121 million shipped
  • 2011 - 115 million shipped
  • 2012 --- 98 million shipped
  • 2013 --- 61 million shipped
  • 2014 --- 30 million shipped? (based on first quarter results)

The market for cameras is literally evaporating. When you look at those numbers it is easy to see why DPreview launched their Connect website. They know they must do something else in order to find a new audience. Because their old audience is shrinking and aging fast and unless they diversify, they could be facing declining revenue in the future.

These changes can be attributed to camera phones gaining in popularity, shifting preferences for younger generation users, worldwide recession, or simply to market oversaturation. The fact is... almost every camera made during the last five years still works, and works pretty well. Do most people need to buy more cameras when their old one is working fine, and the price of food and fuel is skyrocketing?

What normally happens under these circumstances is a market shakeout, or market consolidation. The strongest players survive, and the weaker ones either merge, get acquired or cease to exist.

So what lies ahead for Olympus?

It is very likely that Olympus will someday sell off their imaging division, or enter into a joint venture (merger of imaging divisions into a separate company) with Sony or Panasonic, or some other electronic giant.

Olympus cannot be a mass market company if there is no mass market left, or what little is left is owned by Nikon and Canon. They will have no choice but to retreat to a profitable niche. And the people who want high end dedicated camera devices will have to pay dearly for them.

Marty's full post can be read here: http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/53685615

I am personally not into hand-wringing but am curious about where current trends are leading. I also think there is a strong niche for high IQ, small and flexible IL cameras that mFT's will continue to fill admirably for the foreseeable future. As an avid mFT user, this is important to me.

I also enjoy following progress in both cameras and camera phones, both being imaging devices after all, and with the advances being made by the heavily resourced and highly competitive major players in the latter paving the way for improvements in the former.

Thoughts welcomed.

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Sailin' Steve

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